For some reason, believe it or not, Harvey does so much better alone when he is not crated. During the short time we crated him while we were gone, he would bark non-stop and purposely pee through the crate onto the carpet. The minute we stopped leaving him in a crate he was an angel (more or less). At first we just closed all the bedroom doors and gave him free reign of the living room. But after a few weeks he started to do bad things while we were gone.
We started "locking" him in the kitchen with a crappy piece of plywood blocking the opening. Well, after a few weeks he learned he could push it down. Then we started stacking boxes against the plywood block so he couldn't push through. Problem solved... for a few weeks until he watched Batman jump over the wood, onto the boxes, and then onto the living room floor. Let's just say Harvey is a quick study and that same day he learned he, too, could jump over the plywood door.
The problem with our kitchen, however, is that the opening is kind of at an angle. The two walls where the gate would need to go are perpendicular to each other. Now, amazon has some pretty decent options for angled baby/dog gates but they were going to drop us around $60 to purchase on top of shipping, not to mention they aren't the most attractive things in the world. So in Affourtit fashion, we drew out a DIY plan. Total cost of this project you ask? 16 bucks. Can't beat that.
Our shopping list consisted of five (5) 8 foot 2x2's (which are actually 1.5"x1.5") a set of hook and eyes, two hinges, a latch, and a box of 2.5" wood screws. Other supplies that we used were already in our stock of awesomeness like the miter box and saw, white paint and wall putty but we'll get to that later.
We wanted a gate that was tall enough to contain Harvey, but not look ridiculous. We measured our opening and ended up going with a 3'x3' square. For cuts, we had two 36" pieces and eight 33" pieces.
Once we had all our pieces cut we laid it out on the floor to make sure we had the spacing we wanted. Then we drilled screws into one whole side of the gate connecting the 33" pieces to the one 36" piece. We tried to get the best wood we could but even then it was still somewhat bowed so we wanted to make sure it aligned correctly after one side was completely screwed in.
Batman took no time to find the new object and sit right in the middle. Little did he know, this would soon keep him out of the kitchen when we cook.
After we screwed in the last 36" piece, because of the bowed wood, the vertical pieces didn't completely touch the horizontal one. We decided to fill in the gaps with dry wall putty. They make wood spackle but we already had the putty in our apartment so we decided to save some money. It ended up working perfectly and we even filled in the screw holes.
Now for the hooks and latches. We wanted the door to stay open when not in use so we connected a hook and eye to the one side of the bar. Once the gate is painted, it would be hardly noticeable even with the 6" of overlap on the wall.
Then we attached the latch that will hold it closed to the gate, the connector piece to the wall on the other side. Like I said before, the wood was a tad bowed so we also added a hook and eye to the bottom of the wall to keep the base against the wall. Now the gate sits flush against the wall and Harvey can't nudge his way out at the corner.
If you're making a gate of your own, you could paint it before you attach it to the wall, but I wanted to make sure everything looked good before spending any time on painting. Plus, we were going somewhere that night for our anniversary and we needed to be able to lock up the monster.
Now here's hoping it survives the test of time... and Harvey.
I'm fairly convinced having a dog will make me smarter (and more patient) in the end. While I was composing this post -- Literally three days after first locking him up with the new gate -- Harvey outsmarted us once again. First, he started clawing and chewing at the wood. By my estimation, I think he found out that by pushing his nose at the bottom of the gate, he was able to finagle the top latch open at which point he pushed his way through and literally pulled the bottom hook and eye out of the wall. The next day, we tried taping the latch down and putting a 15 pound weight against the bottom. No such luck. He broke through the tape and pushed over the weight enough to squeeze his monster little body through the opening. We think this took a lot of mental stimulation to accomplish because the first two days he got out we found him just laying on our bed asleep. So the third day we just taped up the latch again and put the weight at the bottom assuming he would be good and just wait for us to get home on our bed. Wrong.
Yesterday I came home to a Chuck-It chewed in half, my favorite pair of sunglasses missing one ear piece, my flats chewed to pieces, and not a single one of his toys touched. This was war. I went straight to Lowes determined to win this battle.
I started by screwing some plexiglass at the bottom so he couldn't scratch at the wood anymore. Hopefully he learns quickly and doesn't just scratch the crap out of the plexiglass. That would be an eyesore. I also bought some heavy duty latches this time but the only problem was the angled connection to the wall. I ended up just cutting some scrap wood at a 45 degree angle and screwing it to the wall. Not the prettiest solution but you have to work with what you've got. I think once I paint everything white it will be less noticeable. I put one at the top and one at the bottom. If Harvey manages to get out of this new and improved gate I will just have to surrender and accept the fact that my dog is smarter than I am. Here's hoping I've finally constructed the indestructible gate. I'm sure there will be a follow up post on my successes or failures. Until then, wish me luck.